Will Smith has been barred from attending any Academy events or programs for the next ten years, including the Academy Awards, in person or remotely.
In a letter to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences family obtained by ET, Academy president David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson said the Board of Governors decided in a Friday meeting that “Mr. Smith shall not be permitted to attend any Academy events for a period of ten years from April 8, 2022,” including the Academy Awards.
“Deep appreciation to [Chris Rock] for retaining his composure under difficult circumstances,” the letter continued.
“I accept and respect the Academy’s decision,” Smith said in a brief statement to ET in response to the board’s decision.
According to Rubin and Hudson, the action taken in reaction to Smith’s behavior was justified “is a step in achieving a wider goal of ensuring the safety of our performers and guests while also rebuilding faith in the Academy. We also hope that this will mark the start of a period of healing and repair for all those engaged and affected.”
During the 94th Academy Awards on March 27, Smith stepped out of his seat, walked up to Rock onstage, and smacked him across the face. After Rock made a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head, Smith challenged the comic, pointing to her from the stage and saying, “I adore you, Jada. I’m looking forward to seeing G.I. Jane 2.” Jada’s unfavorable response was captured on camera, but she was also seen smiling and cheering moments later after Rock remarked, “Will Smith just smacked the s**t out of me.”
The sound on the Oscars telecast went out after Rock reacted by saying Smith’s name. Even though there was no sound, you could definitely read what Smith shouted at Rock when the camera moved back to Smith, back in his seat.
Smith can be seen yelling at the comedian, “Keep my wife’s name out of your f**king lips!”
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“The 94th Academy Awards were supposed to be a celebration of the many people in our community who accomplished outstanding work this year; yet, those moments were overshadowed by the unacceptable and hurtful behavior we saw Mr. Smith demonstrate on stage,” the letter to the Academy family said. “We did not appropriately address the issue in the room during our telecast. We apologize for this. We had a chance to set an example for our guests, viewers, and Academy family throughout the world, but we failed miserably because we were unprepared for the unprecedented.”
Smith, who won his first Oscar for his role in King Richard shortly after the event, apologized to the Academy and its candidates for the uncomfortable confrontation. Following the event, Smith spoke with Denzel Washington and Tyler Perry. He has since expressed regret to Rock. Later, the comic declined to file a police report with the Los Angeles Police Department and only mentioned the incident briefly at his first of two sold-out comedy concerts in Boston.
Because Rock was “extremely dismissive” of the idea of filing charges against Smith, Oscars producer Will Packer hinted during an interview with Good Morning America that the comic did not want the actor to be excluded from the ceremony.
“Will Smith was about to be forcefully removed. I hadn’t been present throughout those discussions. ‘Chris Rock doesn’t want that… Rock has made it obvious that he doesn’t want to make a bad situation worse,’ I told the Academy leadership on site right away “Packer remarked. “Chris had a lot of it. He didn’t say anything in a retaliatory tone. His tone was not abrasive or enraged. I was fighting for what Rock wanted at the time, which was not to physically remove Will Smith because, as I’ve since learned, that was the only choice at the time.”
Will Packer, the Oscars producer, recalls Chris Rock’s off-stage reaction to Will Smith’s slap.
The meeting of the Academy Board of Governors came just days after Rubin wrote to the board, expressing his desire to move the meeting from April 18 to Friday, explaining that the actor’s resignation from the Academy meant that “suspension or expulsion is no longer a possibility” and that the “legally prescribed timetable” no longer applied.
According to the letter, the Academy was required to give Smith a 15-day notice before the board meeting under California law and the Academy’s Standards of Conduct. “Give him the opportunity to furnish the board with a written statement no less than five days before that meeting,” the Academy was also expected to do. However, after Smith resigned from the Academy, the board was no longer bound by the Standards of Conduct.